Use Your Mirror to Figure out What to Wear This Week

Leandra Medine | December 1, 2015

A meditation on style versus taste

Sometimes, when you forget what motivates you to get dressed in the morning, all it takes to remember is a sincere look in the mirror. The kind of stare that reflects a really early version of you, which does not infer that you tap into your inner infant — that would be weird and a challenge to dress. What I’m suggesting is that often, the bells and whistles of sales and years passed and the Internet can meddle with who we are fundamentally. What we really look like. What makes us look more like the versions of ourselves that we most want to be.

Example: I have basically wasted the last three months of my life standing in front of a closet thinking I have nothing to wear when that would only be the case if I actually, literally, physically lacked clothing. How does one reconcile this feeling beyond the hormonal imbalances of being a severely fickle person with taste touch points that run a dramatic gamut from the very casual to the fiercely formal and sometimes like to meet halfway in between and espouse both dress codes?

But I guess that would mean I’m not thinking about my style, right? Which is different, perhaps, from my taste. As in: what looks good on me and what makes me feel good does not invariably equate with the cues that my taste commands.

Another example: I finally found a lamé slip dress. I’ve been looking for one for months. It needed to hit juuuust below my knee and galvanize my clavicle bones as though they were being canonized in the book of shoulders. It came yesterday — and you know what happened when I tried it on and looked in the mirror? Nothing. It was the most underwhelming experience in the history of fallen black Fridays. My calves looked dramatically large, my clavicles seemingly showed little interest in being exposed and my skin, despite being sun-kissed, looked pissed. And that’s just it, right? The physical manifestation of the difference between my style (what I feel good wearing) and my taste (a meditation on what I feel good seeing other people wear). Sometimes they may overlap, but yesterday, they did not.

So here I ask you to take a hard look in the mirror. Consider when you feel best. Use Pinterest to help if your own face will not. I’ve spent the greater half of a weekend morning looking through photos of people I like — really, really like — only to find that in the most diffident and casual of sneaker and suit and sweater shots of the inimitable Lauren Hutton, there it was. Me! Not literally, of course, but at least now I know what I’m wearing.

Feature collage by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • jessica

    I feel this girl. I had to take a step back from sale mania to consider what I will actually wear. I have finally surrendered my fantasy of the perfect high waisted overalls (because despite my endless quest for the perfect pair, they don’t ever look cool on ME). And I do not have a string of fashionable parties to attend that warrant yet another metallic dress. But I am swearing off sweat pants in the day time and investing in a solid trench coat. Lauren Hutton is IT right now, I agree, and it is totally because she knew what made her feel good when she put it on. Thanks for this!

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  • Janet

    I love this reflection on the difference between style and taste! I’ve never really thought about the two in this way, yet it explains my entire shopping life. As a 36DD there are so many thing that I absolutely love on other people (taste) that simply don’t work for me (style). When I keep trying to make those garments work, it totally sinks my self-esteem. But when I wear what I KNOW works for me (hello pencil skirts and secretary blouses), then I feel powerful, beautiful, stylish no matter the current trends.

    • Janet

      By the way, you guys are KILLING it lately. Add some more Katie Sturino and make Charles Manson a footnote in history.

    • kduck

      I suffer from the same blessing/curse and totally feel ya! I find that shoes are my saving grace. I always wondered why I had so much fun shopping for shoes and not for clothes. Then it hit me. The chances were so much higher that the shoe would fit and look like I expected!

  • I totally feel ya on this one. Overalls is in that box for me. Sometimes it is about style vs. taste, but I have found that it also often relates to ones mood (PMS anyone?!?) and general feeling of self. The days where everything you try on in a fitting room, or at home makes you glow – and then there are the days when NOTHING is what you want to wear. These days I just accept it, put on a tried and tested outfit (or something really simple) and say ‘fuck it’.

    • Lua Jane

      Oh yes! The woes of PMS and ever changing mood and also swallen body parts. Bra fit somehow becomes questionable, and there is a nice tummy curve where it wasnt before. I feel like a wobbly whale those days, and all pants fit terribly.

  • Everyone had a bad day or several…learn,what was wrong and move on…xoxo from Europe 2leave.com fashion blog

  • Kiersley Talbot

    Wow this is true! I’ve only recently started to dress for myself, but I’ve never felt better. Even knowing that I might look weird doesn’t deter me from feeling more myself. Totally embracing the loose on loose. But I’ve realized that being a man repeller sometimes means being a mom repeller haha, my mom hates my favorite clothing combinations!

  • Stella1964

    Not to be a jerk, this is a friendly FYI as you are a writer. You should also consider “imply” vs. “infer.” You meant to say imply.

  • Grace

    The only way to reconcile my growing love for high-waisted pants that usually reveal a (beautiful) display of camel-toe with society’s incessant need to not be visually attacked by another’s ~pudenda~ is to wake up every day in a pre-Lacanian mirror stage. I’m not yet where you are in accepting that I exist physically in this world.

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  • That’s exactly the reason why I can’t buy online. Not being able of trying the clothes on myself makes me doubt and at the end I don’t put anything on my basket!!

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  • chouette

    Here I’ve been thinking I want to be Scully x Celine SS16 x David Byrne when in reality I really just want to be Lauren Hutton. Duh.

  • Annie

    This is perfect. I have a serious love of slim, classic clothes. However, I have a figure more like Christina Hendricks. It really stinks to try to hold yourself to a style or standard that will only disappoint – those shirts and sweaters I so love on less curvy girls add about twenty pounds to me. Once I stopped forcing myself to fit my tastes, I began working with my body. I feel so much better for it. Thanks for the article!

    • Lua Jane

      I’m not as blessed as Hendricks but do tend to have a pretty strong waist to hip ratio. Feminine, slightly vintage silhouettes do wonders, and make me feel my prettiest, but I love wearing simple jean and cashmere sweater combos. I do wear them, but instinctively if I want to leave good impression I’ll pull my girly fifties look. I always feel like ugly stumpy kid, wearing cool people’s uniform.

  • b.e.g.

    the comments section is being invaded by scum bags pushing something or other.

  • b.e.g.

    Style vs. taste. I think the two can be friends. To be sure not everything will look good on you, depending on your shape. But there are times to break out of the uniform, try something different, something a little daring. If you don’t think a too revealing dress looks good on you because your arms are too thick, for example, try wearing it with a blazer, cardigan, jean jacket, whatever. Developing a style of your own is simply a matter of having versatile clothes and shoes to pull off a look every day without looking like you spent hours deciding what to wear. Too polished a look is fake. Too matchy matchy is fake. Being a little different, even daring is style. Lauren Hutton and her sneakers and suits, that was daring (maybe not anymore, but when she started doing it it certainly was). And finally, to all you ladies with LV and CC all over, wearing labels all over is not style, it’s just a credit card with a high limit.

  • Lua Jane

    I think that the style is reflexion of taste, corrected by our own personal limitations in that sense. Style is the middle ground between what we love on other people and what our taste dictates, and what actually looks good on us, what we feel comfortable wearing. I think my taste is very simplistic and normcore, whereas my style is much more feminine due to what looks good on me and my body type.

  • Megan Werther

    Do you take interns throughout the year? If yes, what do you want in an application? Text samples? Pitches?
    Thanks!!

    • Leandra Medine

      hey! why don’t you e-mail careers@manrepeller.com and we’ll get back to you!? yes, we take on interns throughout the year

  • kevynryan

    i’m glad you exist, leandra.

    • Leandra Medine

      me you kev

  • KASPER

    Or use @GarbShare – Total lifesaver! Literally forced me to see my closet in a different light and allow it to manifest into a revived style through my reflection of both literal and figurative self.

  • olive

    This is SO real! Kind of unfortunately. My mom is always right about what looks best on me, but I always want to argue because I can be so stuck on what I admire other people wearing. Some of my best friends can pull off some great things that suit them, but it’s hard to realize that what suits me is very different. I am confident in my taste, but I think I’ll always be editing my style. Great differentiation!